de Palma 01
By James McCombe - 07 Apr 15
Yesterday in the UK: that was it. The first day of the year when the sun shone bright, the asphalt was dry and doubts about lateral grip made way for mile wide smiles. It was definitely the day to lay down the spanners and see what this season's range of insects tasted like, full pelt down a country lane. The bikers of the northern hemisphere are tentatively packing away their textiles; fingers crossed they stay there. But not everyone gets to enjoy it. The difference between a shed build and working on bikes for a living is wrenching when you might not want to. Gregorio Fernández is the propieter of Gori de Palma, a Barcelona based, underground, punk-rock inspired brand. As a lover of retro and vintage bikes, Gregorio took the opportunity to combine passions and started De Palma Cycles: adding anarchy to every-man bikes. Even if it meant a few lost sunny afternoons. Rather than stick a mohawk on The Mona Lisa, Gregorio picked up a Honda CB750 from 1992, providing good basic mechanicals and reliability to form a sold base. Having released a fashion collection back in 2012 called 1%, which took inspiration from the first motorcycle gangs, the bike was to build on this using the Gori De Palma style, heavily influenced by rock, post-punk and punk music. Once up on the bench, the rebellious CB got a head start with the dirty protest and threw up some nasty surprises. Long story short, the original engine was replaced by one of the last 750 units from the year 2000. With just 20,000 km on the clocks this promised to behave and received a fresh coat of anarchist black and a pat on the cam cover. The most significant visual alteration to the bike is the new fuel tank. Gregorio knew it had to be smaller, lighter and more classically styled than the swooping '90s item and the solution came forward from Honda's past. A replica RC110 item, as found on the Skyteam Ace was squeezed over the bike's spine frame, it's iconic shape providing a silver slit across the big inline 4 engine. The rear frame was altered to allow the seat and tank to align a little more pleasingly, though the step between the two is enough of a two-finger-salute to annoy purists, suiting the bike's character to a T. Digging into the Honda parts bin, a set of CBR 900 Fireblade forks were adapted to fit the headstock, a longer stem allowing them to slot right it. Chosen not only for the benefits of uprated 4-pot Nissins and modern damping, but for their classic styling, Baba-San's desire for light right-way-up forks meann quality and aesthetics can be transplanted wholesale to whole raft of customs builds. The original rear brake was kept, but a new flat disc giving a harsher feel was handcrafted. Going with an 18-inch rim up front and a 17-inch item at the back meant a wide range of radial rubber was available. The tubeless spoked rims further helping reduce unsprung mass. The new seat unit is made in steel and topped off with leather and metallic rivets for that classic punk jacket feel. Being steel it has enough strength to let a companion hop on the back, though I'd imagine after a mile or two you'll begin to hear (Ra)moans of displeasure... The original 4-2 system was shortened and painted in black, as with much of the bike while the mufflers were changed for a pair of Supertrapp items in aluminium. Stripping the bike of all it's plastic, the air box was replaced by cone filters and the battery hidden down by the swingarm. Along with the wafer-thin tank the middleweight slugger now looks positively skeletal. A simple round speedometer poking over the yoke and some"Coca Cola" grips clasping a set of stumpy aluminium clip-ons are all the rider needs; this is bare bones biking. And if the rasp pair of the Supertrapp Mufflers isn't enough to keep drivers from riding your rear wheel they will have a very literal reminder to back up, thanks to the pleasantries scrawled on either side of the '70s Superbike taillight. With a palette of naked metals and a-chromatic paints, De Palma Cycles have produced a machine both raw and powerful, much like the punk culture that provided the influence. The build list is burgeoning, two Yamaha SRs are approaching completion and a Moto Morini 350 Sport, Moto Guzzi V50 and a Ural Sidecar outfit are lined up for the some anarchy, Catalonia style. Hopefully the guys will find enough time to sample their wares and get out on the road as well! Thanks to Cristian Di Stefano for the moody images.